Rangers lefty Yohander Mendez has been diagnosed with a grade one sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. He’s expected to miss approximately half of the coming campaign.
Though Mendez avoided the worst-case outcome of Tommy John surgery, he’ll still need to take a slow path back to competitive pitching. Per Grant, the current plan is for a six-week rest period followed by a full ramp-up back to top speed.
If all goes to plan, the 24-year-old southpaw will miss about ten weeks of the coming season (along with the final two weeks of camp). With a potential mid-June return, there’s still every chance that Mendez will throw significant innings in 2019. It’s likely he’ll open up back at Triple-A once his rehab assignment is up, though it’d be foolish to attempt to predict what the Texas pitching staff will look like by the middle of the summer.
Mendez cracked the majors in his age-21 campaign and has seen action in each of the past three seasons. The results have not been promising. Through 43 big-league innings, Mendez has allowed thirty earned runs on 46 hits with 25 strikeouts against 20 walks. He also coughed up 64 earned in 122 1/3 minor-league frames last year.
The Rangers will hope that they can otherwise emerge from camp without dings to a pitching unit that has quite a few health risks. Mendez will presumably be a candidate for a 60-day injured list placement, which would open up a 40-man roster spot to utilize on any late-spring claims or other roster decisions.